Morgantown, West Virginia – 2020 has been one of the worst years in recent history, but has been a mix of ups and downs for West Virginia sports. The Mountaineer football program has shown steady progress, finishing 5-4 during the regular season with an opportunity in the Liberty Bowl against Army. The West Virginia basketball program is a top ten team in the nation with a real chance to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
With that said, here are the five things that West Virginia fans should wish for in the upcoming new year:
1.) A Real Commitment from Neal Brown: Through West Virginia Director of Athletics Shane Lyons, Brown apparently said that he loves it here in Morgantown and is not interested in any other open positions that may come up. However, it would be nice to hear it directly from Brown himself. West Virginia fans have been scorned in the past by coaches we thought would be here forever, and Brown simply saying, “I’m here for the long run” would go a long way. Although that’s simple coaches speak, Brown has earned a level of trust with the respectable, honorable way that he left Troy to come to WVU.
2.) Bob Huggins getting the respect he’s earned: A Hall of Fame nomination again is nice, but it’s time that Huggins is actually inducted this year. 888 wins and 6th on the all-time list makes him an absolute no-brainer.
In addition, West Virginia University should finally honor Huggins with some form of real recognition when he hits 900 wins this season. Either naming the court after him or erecting a statue of him would be entirely appropriate for the most important figure in recent West Virginia basketball history.
3.) Doug Nester Coming Home: Nester, a 6’6 300 pound guard who recently transferred from Virginia Tech, is originally from Huntington, West Virginia, is a former four star recruit and was a two-year starter with the Hokies. Nester played at the same high school (Spring Valley High) as recent WVU commit Wyatt Milum and is very close friends with West Virginia redshirt freshman wide receiver Graeson Malashevich, who also played for Spring Valley in high school.
Nester would be a perfect addition to a line that will feature in-state standouts Zach Frazier and Wyatt Milum, and this would ensure that the Mountaineers’ offensive line would open lanes for running backs and provide the quarterbacks with the proper protection to be successful.
4.) Hiring a Real Offensive Coordinator – The West Virginia football program has all of the pieces in place to be incredibly successful for many, many years ahead – an outstanding, young head coach, fantastic assistants, as well as improved facilities and recruiting.
However, one piece that is glaringly obvious is the lack of a real offensive coordinator with actual experience at the position. Although co-offensive coordinators Chad Scott and Gerard Parker are excellent parts of the team, they are not experienced play-callers. And while Head Coach Neal Brown has plenty of experience as an offensive coordinator, his duties as the leader of the program are far-reaching, and he should not have to focus his energy and time on calling offensive plays.
While the Mountaineers’ offense is certainly improved from last year, averaging 460.8 yards per game this season, the offense is too often stagnant and lacks identity.
The West Virginia football program is very close but lacks a few pieces towards long-term success, and the first piece that needs filled is a real offensive coordinator to lead the Mountaineers’ offense. The Head Coach has so many other responsibilities to handle and calling plays should not be one of them. The hiring of a proven, successful coordinator should have happened before this season. Now, it’s an absolute must in 2021.
5.) Closing the season on a high note – A West Virginia win in the Liberty Bowl against a very tough Army team would be a huge plus going into next season. A loss would be devastating. A 5-5 record is not great improvement from last season. 6-4 is. Confidence and momentum would greatly increase with a win on the final day of the year in Memphis.
The West Virginia basketball team have a “national championship or nothing” mentality. Anything less than a deep run in the NCAA Tournament would be disappointing. This is Bob Huggins’ best opportunity to win a national championship in almost a decade, and the Mountaineers must put it all together for full games to make it happen.